A new research has revealed that a record number of more than 400 healthcare staff in the United Kingdom have left the National Health Service (NHS) to revive their work-life stability over the past year.
The findings emerged in an assessment of the health service compiled by John Hall, a former strategy director at the Department of Health and Social Care, for the Engage Britain charity on Saturday.
Concerns over the state of the workforce came top of its list as it investigated the public’s attitude towards health and social care services, which remain under pressure in the wake of the pandemic.
“The workforce crisis in the NHS has clearly penetrated the public consciousness,” Hall said.
“The UK has long had significantly lower numbers of doctors and nurses per capita than comparable systems … More recently, the impact of working conditions is showing an increasing impact on the ability of the NHS to retain staff. Around 50 in every 10,000 staff working in hospital and community health services in June 2021 left the service within the next three months, citing work-life balance as the reason. This was a new record.”
The mass departures come as the workforce is complaining of burnout and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following two years of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, raising fears that the exodus is impacting the quality of care as the Omicron variant keeps spreading across the country.
More than a quarter of adults have said they or an immediate family member had received inadequate care due to the healthcare staff problems.
Analysis of NHS Digital figures found that at least 400 staff are leaving every week in the UK to improve their work-life balance. It comes alongside evidence of high turnover among social care workers. Recent estimates show more than a third (34%) of care workers left their roles in 2020-21.
Earlier this month, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government had “missed an opportunity” to alleviate the workforce crisis in the NHS and social care, after rejecting the Commons health select committee’s recommendation to overhaul workforce planning. Staff shortages were the main driver of worker burnout, he said.
Julian McCrae, Engage Britain’s director, said frontline health and care workers were now “running on empty” and a plan for boosting the workforce was overdue.
Data from the NHS has already showed that the British government has faced the highest level of hospital staff absence in early January since the vaccine rollout.